Titans top Gore Rangers in overtime
Vail, CO Colorado
EAST VAIL ” Coal Ridge’s Ashley Bowles has been counting her blessings since the end of soccer tryouts.
“It’s big for a freshman to make varsity. Today was my second game and I got to start,” said Bowles.
Tuesday against Vail Mountain, Bowles got to celebrate another milestone in her young career ” her first goal, which happened to also be an overtime game-winner.
Bowles buried a loose ball in the Gore Rangers’ box midway through the second overtime period to lift the Titans to a 2-1 win in East Vail.
“They were going to put a different midfielder in (for overtime), but they kept me in, and I was very thankful,” Bowles said.
As was Coal Ridge coach, Brian Blair.
“It was a fun game,” Blair said. “Both teams played well, but in the second half, Vail Mountain took it to us. They dominated us in the second half and we couldn’t get much on the offensive end and they just kept sending players through the middle. It was looking scary there for a while.”
Vail Mountain had plenty of chances early in the match to score, but Coal Ridge took a 1-0 lead into the break thanks to a tally by Jill Refior. The Gore Rangers came out hard in the second half and tied things up when defender Taylor Biegler blasted a free kick home in the 66th minute for her first varsity goal.
After the goal, Vail Mountain continued to press Coal Ridge, and set up some good looks on Titans’ keeper Vanessa Hinojos. The Gore Rangers controlled the first 10-minute overtime period, and continued to hold the majority of possession in the second overtime, until a pair of corner kicks gave the Titans the chance to pull out the win. On the second corner kick, the ball bounced around in the Vail Mountain box before finding its way onto Bowles’ foot and then into the back of the net.
“I was hoping it would go in,” Bowles said. “I was praying it would go in.”
The Gore Rangers were a bit stunned, but coach Bob Bandoni thought his team performed well.
“We are doing a lot of things right,” he said. “We need to work on our organization in the final third of the field. I’m really pleased with this effort. It’s always tough to lose in overtime, especially with a ball that just kind of sat there for a split second. But this indicates we’re coming along as a team.”
In its previous two contests, Vail Mountain played the balance of those games with 10 players. Tuesday, with 11 on the pitch, the Gore Rangers controlled the ball with poise and made good use of the snow-shortened field (the sidelines were moved in several meters on each side due to the large snow banks).
“Looking at the quality of play and quality of scoring chances, I think that’s the best we’ve played this season,” Bandoni said. “The thing that still is happening, and it has happened in the first three games we’ve played in, we’re still not capitalizing on scoring opportunities in the final third of the field.”
Coal Ridge had some chances in the first half, several of which were stymied by the Gore Rangers’ defense and by Vail Mountain keeper Elsie Macsata, who came off her line several times to break up the Titan’s attack.
“Elsie is playing magnificent,” Bandoni said. “She is smart, athletic and reads the game well. She gives us a dimension that allows us to play a lot higher on the field.”
“Our defenders were a lot more organized than we usually were and everyone stepped up the aggression against (Coal Ridge),” Biegler said.
The Titans first goal came in the 19th minute after Macsata came out to meet a charging Coal Ridge forward and Vail Mountain defender. Following Macsata’s save, a trailing Refior collected the ball and lofted it into the empty Vail Mountain net.
Coal Ridge nearly added another goal seven minutes into the second half, but Vail Mountain defender Kelsey Peck made a diving save. From there, the Gore Rangers owned the rest of regulation.
Biegler, who had launched a free kick over the Coal Ridge net in the first half, got another chance to come off the backline and delivered. Biegler let a shot rip from the top right of the Coal Ridge box that flew over the wall and hugged the left corner of the net.
“Mr. Bandoni told me to aim for the heads of the girls, so I aimed for their heads, and it worked out,” she said. “It was so thrilling because it was my first goal on this team and as a defender.”
Molly Etters did a great job controlling the ball for Vail Mountain in the midfield and finding the Gore Rangers’ forwards.
“This is the first game this year where she is beginning to find her level, and that’s encouraging,” Bandoni said. “I thought all our seniors offered great leadership on the field.”
Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or email@example.com.
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